Category Archives: Mobile

Enterprise Mobility Requirements

For couple of years now, mobile innovation has primarily focused all its resources and time on the consumer market.  In 2013 there are tremendous opportunities and market demand for innovative solutions and products that address the needs of a mobile strategy for enterprises.

In 2013, analysts have forecasted 1.2 billion smartphones and tablets will be sold worldwide, up from 821 million in 2012. With more and more enterprise  encouraging the idea of BYOD for their users, having a mobile strategy is not an option anymore. It is a necessity for all enterprises.

What is it to have a mobile strategy?

Most enterprises now have aligned a strategy to address their mobile user needs to meet their business goals through evolving technologies. Hence creating a compelling mobile experience for their users is now becoming a competitive necessity.

Here is the standard requirements that companies have adopted around a mobile strategy so far:

1. Mobile Apps to provide easy and secure access: 

Most companies have a mobile strategy starts with mobile app to accommodate the user driven IT world and provide easy access to content like the ability to connect to files and documents from smartphones and tablets as efficiently as they can from laptops and desktops.

The mobile apps could be a native apps to support and meet the needs of specific mobile devices, which are made downloadable through the app stores or they it could rich HTML5 based web apps. Refer to my earlier post for more on the benefits of HTML5 : Future of Web Applications as I see it.

Also, check out this article on HTML5 vs native app

2. Maintain control and security while providing a simple End-User experience

This would require the need to support a mobile device and access management solution to make sure they can enforce and control these mobile devices on who, how, where and what resources the users can access. Refer to my earlier post for more on Mobile Security – BYOD Trends and Needs

3. Support a Social-Business context through evolving technologies

Mobile users are using the mobile devices for their personal and their professional lives— whether they’re working remotely on mobile devices or at the home office.  This means that tools around collaboration, file sharing, workflow systems, WLAN capacity, network bandwidth and other network resources should allow users to fully engage both on business and social terms at the same time. This would require enterprises to support a flexible model to support their evolving business needs through technologies to provide better, faster and secure transactions without compromising the privacy of these mobile users.

So far go good…It will be interesting to watch how this strategy will evolve in the future?.

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What it means to adopt a Cloud strategy?.

Cloud computing in the areas of  Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a service (SaaS) were the words of 2012. Vendors like SAP, IBM,Microsoft, RedHat, Oracle, VMWare and Citrix all entered this space early on and now we see that these solutions are  evolving into second generation products in 2013 (Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/14/the-second-generation-of-cloud-startups-is-here/#ST0T4K7MFbYxhGlA.99)

Now that cloud computing is making a huge impact in other market areas like big data, social and mobility, to help drive and support new business scenarios, we will see more and more hardware and software vendors embarking this journey around their products and solutions. ( See: Gartner: 10 critical IT trends for the next five years)

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 2.12.46 PM

Source: Business value of Cloud Computing

Benefits of the cloud offerings is often associated with reducing cost and increasing agility.  While this is true, the more strategic role that cloud solutions can play for the customers and the vendors are in achieving operational excellence, product leadership, customer intimacy, and open innovation.  Cloud computing is part of a long and powerful trend towards virtualization. Virtualization acts as a stepping stone for cloud which mainly helps to bring down the operation cost down, at the same time facilitate speed and agility in deployment and maintenance in the long run.

Given the above factors, the following are typical areas to consider when thinking of ROI when adopting a cloud strategy:

                  1. Hardware costs – how much will this save in terms of the servers and storage devices.
                  2. Maintenance for the hardware – will there be any savings ?
                  3. Software licenses cost – usually the license post for a cloud solution is priced less than on premise. How much cost can be reduced per seat?
                  4. Maintenance for the software – include both the vendor support and your internal support costs
                  5. Facilities costs – can you lower the power, HVAC, building costs etc.?
                  6. Productivity/efficiency costs– what is the learning curve, are the people who will use the new system more productive? what is the cost involved for training?
                  7. Agility around new opportunities – are you able to respond faster, but cheaper, to opportunities that otherwise would have taken more development time and money?

Future of Web Applications as I see it

If  enterprises have to stay current they have to invest and innovate to make sure that their web applications and user experience stays on top of their list when it comes to their web strategy. As cloud computing grows in 2013 and SasS becomes one of the main delivery models for the software enterprises, the Web will be the primary access model for the application users.

Enterprises will see an increases in demand for web resources. The web application development will also evolve at a faster pace with the advent of innovations like HTML5 to help support rich web applications . To keep the development and maintenance costs low and reduce the cost of ownership, there will be a greater need to make sure the web applications that the enterprises build are supported across multiple platforms, cross browsers (IE, Chrome,Safari, Mozilla) and cross devices (desktops & mobile).

What’s the magic bullet?. 

HTML5

HTML5 is the future!.  Steve Jobs saw this coming in In April 2010 when he announced the demise of Flash and what the future is for HTML5 in his public letter titled “Thoughts on Flash”.

 

Why HTML5?.

Fast, Secure, Responsive, Interactive, Rich, Easy, Portable, Stunningly beautiful are the words that is used to describe the web application developed with HTML5.

HTML5 not only supports the core HTML components to help define an enterprise quality structure of the web application but also allows support for CSS3 to have a great visual presentation and support for JavaScript helps to control and manage the behavior of the application. Will all these capabilities in HTML5 developers can have a very rich web application framework to build on top. Since most browsers already support HTML5 is becoming the de fecto standard at a faster rate than expected.

Here is what some early adopters like Apple showcased in 2010 on what HTML5 can do http://mashable.com/2010/06/03/apple-html5-showcase/

Recently, I came across a demo put together by the Sencha’s team around the power of HTML5 captured in this video http://vimeo.com/55486684. This proves how native mobile application development will soon become the topic of the past  and the future of web applications is HTML5

2013 Mobile Predictions – from Appcelerator/IDC Report

With the BYOD becoming the norm for enterprise application and its users, here is an IDC report on how the mobile development landscape will look like in 2013.

Download the Appcelerator/IDC Q4 2012 Mobile Developer Report.

Some Key findings:

  • Interest in iOS and Android Platforms Remains Stable
    Despite the introduction of new products in Q4 and the massive success of devices like the iPod mini, Amazon Kindle, Samsung Galaxy S III, and iPhone 5, developer interest in the most popular platforms (i.e. iOS, Android, Blackberry) remains high, but relatively unchanged since Q3 2012.
  • Amazon Kindle Struggles
    Despite Amazon’s sizeable investment in its signature Kindle tablet, developers doubt that the device provides significant revenue opportunities.
  • Google Nexus Starts Strong
    An unprecedented number of respondents express strong interest in developing mobile apps for the Nexus platform.
  • Microsoft Surface Insufficient
    Microsoft’s Surface tablet has yet to excite the developer community.
  • Mobile Will Forever Change Retail
    Mobile developers anticipate that it is “likely to very likely” that most retail companies will have enabled mobile commerce in 2013.

Mobile Security – BYOD Trends and Needs

As more and more users are embracing the mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets into their daily lives, enterprises have started adopting the trend of allowing its users to bring their own devices (BYOD). Though BYOD allows more freedom for the employees enabling them to consolidate personal and business functions in one mobile device , it has opened new security risks for organizations. Hence all enterprises and organizations need to have a mobile security strategy around its users and the mobile devices that they use.

Security breaches on mobile devices that organizations should pay attention to?

  • Avoiding personal and corporate data getting commingled on the user’s mobile device
  • Making sure that if the mobile devices are lost or stolen there is a way to prevent the company data getting into the hands of hackers and thieves thereby avoiding misuse of the data.
  • Prevent Third-party programs or malware entering into the company network resulting in data incompatibility and integrity.
  • Unauthorized users getting their hands into confidential company network and data
  •  Avoiding data corruption and lower mobile device performance as a result of insufficient security enforcement on the device itself.

Organizations require several critical security components to make sure that BYOD are protected to address the above trends

  •  Adopt a mobile device management (MDM) solutions to enforce  user authentication, authorization and data protection around their device, the data and applications that they use. Most of the MDM solutions offer remote configuration and administration of the mobile devices and allows monitoring and enforcing policies that meet the organization’s IT policies.
  • Ensure safe accessibility to corporate networks with VPN security for these mobile devices. This will allow to safeguard the company networks at the same time will provide the users an optimized, secure path to corporate resources like the corporate intranet, email, network resources and other software applications.
  • Enforcement of a  high-level device encryption to safeguard data on the mobile devices. This will help to provides a high level of encryption of the data that is stored on the device or during transmission. The security goal is to prevent data getting into the wrong hands.

Today, enterprises around the world are struggling to manage a growing trend of their mobile workforce using multiple devices and the increased data consumption. As a result of this fast growing trend mobile security investment is expected to climb 44% each year through 2015. We can all expect more innovation to happen on the solution side as well.

How important is Mobile Security for Enterprises?

Here are the facts and issues around how enterprise users are using mobile devices:

  •  Email continues to be the killer app for mobility. Employees expecting to get their email just about anywhere drive the use of smartphones and now tablets.
  •  Enterprises users are finding other use cases for mobile devices, including everything from applications for day-to-day activities to SharePoint access.
  • Enterprises are struggling to create a policy that addresses consumerization. Lack of a stronger policy for mobile users is driving requirements for risk management for mobile devices because the greater the mobile connectivity, the more options exist to limit the information actually stored on the user’s device.
  • BYOD, or the idea of employees using their personal devices for work, is currently seen as something that is inevitable by enterprises.
  • Configuration may sit between the help desk technician and the user. These factors can prevent IT from accessing the user’s machine using traditional remote control tools.
  • More and more enterprises are using phones as an alternative to specialized authentication tokens for remote access to enterprise networks, as well as for online banking and similar services.
  • Authentication is being done using either one-time-password software tokens for smartphones or out of band (OOB) authentication via text messaging or automated voice calls
  • Mobile phones and tablets will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide during the next year or two, and the value of a phone as a token is used as an authentication credential. For many medium risk use cases, this will be good enough, but for higher-risk use cases, something else is needed.
  • While the availability of device-embedded biometric authentication in mobile phones remains low and inconsistent, server- or cloud-based biometric authentication products can exploit phones as capture devices for face and typing rhythm.

From these above facts its quite clear that every enterprise needs to have a strong mobile security strategy to protect its user’s identity, their data and their mobile devices.

I will explore the challenges around mobile security in details in the coming blogs.

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